SucceedGroup - Blog
Posted on May 25, 2016
Compiled by Francois Pretorius
Compiled by Francois Pretorius

A marketing plan is an essential tool for your firm. The purpose of a marketing plan is to map out the decisions you have made to determine the future success of your firm. And any firm, of any size, will find that invaluable.

It is definitely true that marketing planning and strategy are far more a part of larger firms than of smaller ones, but that is no reason why a smaller firm can’t benefit from a similar approach. Developing a marketing plan will help you think about what makes your firm unique and how to get the message out to preferred audiences through a variety of channels.

You will determine clear objectives, timescales and a budget. One of the greatest benefits of developing a marketing plan is that it helps you to focus your resources and plan for your business’ growth.

There are various benefits of having a marketing plan in place:

A marketing plan promotes effective decision making - What segment of the market should you target? Are your prices right for your market? Should you use different mediums of communication? Making marketing decisions for your business can be overwhelming. A good marketing plan lays out clearly defined objectives that make it easy to identify the tasks that need to be done, as well as the timelines necessary for completing those tasks.

A marketing plan aligns your marketing with your business goals and objectives - There are various mediums through which your firm can engage in marketing. With so many options available for your firm to engage with the target audience, the trick is to know which ones make sense. A sound marketing plan will help you determine what should be done and what should be ignored. This will keep your employees focused on work that matters - work that accomplishes your firm’s goals and objectives.

A marketing plan ensures monitoring your Work-In-Progress (WIP) - A regular evaluation of your marketing plan is essential. This will ensure that you are following it, and to check that what you are following has not been rendered redundant by market changes. This doesn’t mean that your plan should only be reviewed once a year, but rather, as a working document, referred to whenever you have a marketing decision to make and revise it whenever you notice a change in your market or firm.

A marketing plan simplifies evaluating new opportunities - In an ever changing world, it is a given that new opportunities will present themselves from time to time. It might be as simple as a new marketing or advertising channel, or as big as a new market sector that’s opening. The question to ask here is: are the opportunities good for you? A marketing plan will prove invaluable in these situations as it will give you the criteria to evaluate them and determine if they make sense for your firm.

A marketing plan enables measurement - A marketing plan gives you an outline to measure your efforts. A great advantage of modern marketing is that almost all aspects are easily measurable. You can keep track of the number of followers on Social Media, email click-through rate, banner clicks, website traffic and newsletter open/read rate. By itself, the data does not mean a lot, but if put together in a marketing plan it makes sense. A marketing plan gives you the ability to evaluate all the data and determine if your efforts are moving you towards your goals.

The value of a marketing plan far outweighs any investment you make to create one and the benefits will last for years. If you don’t have a marketing plan in place, we highly suggest you develop one.

For more information contact Francois Pretorius at
Posted on March 18, 2016
Compiled by Ben van der Westhuyzen
Compiled by Ben van der Westhuyzen

One objection that professionals commonly make when approaching business development is that they want to be legal or accounting or medical professionals, not sales professionals. Most reluctant rainmakers dread anything that looks or feels like sales, and painting the process of business development with a sales brush is the kiss of death for many professionals. But here is the good news: rainmaking is not about selling.
Selling is typically the process (to sceptical professionals, at least) of convincing unsuspecting buyers that they need to purchase something. It is creating demand for a product or service, or creating demand for a specific source of a product or service. Although almost everyone enjoys buying things and services on a regular basis, most people dislike being sold to, which in turn creates resistance to selling. Throw in many professionals’ concept of the practice of law, accounting or medicine as more of a profession and less of a business (a view that seems somewhat anachronistic today, though to the delight of those who still see it as a calling or profession and not merely a vocation, it lingers), and it is easy to see why some professionals reject anything that looks or feels like a sales pitch.

Most professionals are able to identify how their work benefits their clients, but Rainmaking, however, may make a professional feel like the stereotypical used car salesman foisting his services on an uninterested public. It is actually a simple perspective shift. One- on-one client development is the process of finding a match between a professional and his or her potential client.

In everyday usage, the term "Rainmaker" can apply to anyone - from the salesperson who always finishes first in sales to the engineer who consistently finds innovative ways to present a company's products. In the purest sense, a rainmaker is a “difference maker”.

Rainmakers do two things well:
Firstly, they generate leads for new business. That is, they go out and create opportunities to talk with prospective clients about problems they can help solve. True rainmakers do not just wait for the phone to ring; they go out and find business

Secondly, they turn a portion of these leads into new business with their selling skills. To be true rainmakers, they must generate enough business to keep many others in their firms employed.

Other professionals may do one or the other of these things, but they do not do both. They are best at minding clients and grinding out work.
Compiled by Karlien Theart
Compiled by Karlien Theart

Almost everyone with a professional service or business will be on the lookout for providers of responsive websites. It is essential after all: one design for the BlackBerry, another for the iPhone, the iPad, Kindle — and all screen resolutions must be compatible. As technology continues to develop, so will the media industry need to keep up with the requirements that go along with micro updates; and with development follows a wide variety of new platforms aiming to take on the new challenges of our digital age.
In the field of web design and development it can become quite a difficult exercise to keep up with the endless new resolutions, platforms and devices. Creating a website version for each resolution and new device would be impractical or, needless to say, almost impossible. Should clients suffer the consequences of losing visitors from one device, for the benefit of gaining visitors from another? Will the statistics be ignored for the desire to remain with comfortable methods? Or is there another option?

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is an approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behaviour and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. The practice consists of a mix of grids, tables and layouts, images, and an intelligent use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)media queries. As the user switches from their laptop to iPad to mobile device, the website should automatically switch to accommodate for resolution, image size and scripting abilities. The website should have the technology to automatically respond to the user’s preferences, without altering the logical sequence and display of the content. This would eliminate the need for a different design and development phase for each new gadget on the market.

Finally we realize that the Internet took off quicker than anyone would have predicted. For the past few years, mobile growth has become a primary source for web browsing and Internet usage. It is hard to find someone who doesn’t own a mobile device, or multiple devices, connected to the Internet.

With the growth in mobile Internet usage comes the question of how to build websites suitable for all users. With the approach to RWD, we can make things more flexible. Images can be automatically adjusted, and we have new solutions so that layouts never break. While it’s not a complete fix, the solution gives us far more options. It’s perfect for devices that switch from portrait orientation to landscape in an instant or for when users switch from a large computer screen to an iPad or simply adjust between orientations on the same device.

If SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a core element of your digital marketing strategy, having a platform-friendly website is essential. It is only logical that mobile search will overtake desktop search at some point in the near future as well.

To make it all simple and easy to understand, here are the basic benefits of RWD:
- Pages look great and consistent at any size
- It is cost effective
- It is recommended by Google
- It is easy to manage

RWD, originally defined by Ethan Marcotte in A List Apart, is saving us from frustration. RWD is best for the user. Every custom solution makes for a better user experience. With RWD we can create custom solutions for a wider range of users, on a wider range of devices.

A website can be tailored for someone on an old laptop or device as well as it can for the vast majority of people on the latest gadgets around, and likewise for the few users who own the most advanced gadgets now and in the years to come. RWD creates a great custom experience for everyone. But it seems that, without defining the term RWD, we strive for the purpose of digital flexibility on a daily basis, regardless of the rules or requirements.
Compiled by Ben van der Westhuyzen
Compiled by Ben van der Westhuyzen

For the last twenty years the word “rainmaker” has pushed its way into the professional industry and forecast changes for many professionals and how they make a living, rise through the ranks in a firm and measure success in private practice. A few hard facts have risen during this time:

Besides billable hours, challenging clients and long hours, the pressing need to bring in business and be a Rainmaker is an element of how success is measured for most professionals.
The need to successfully acquire new clients and generate business is critical to getting ahead in a large firm or in making a small firm profitable.

Ethical marketing or rainmaking is a necessary component of success. Unfortunately, it wasn’t part of the curriculum at any university and now most professionals are confused and frustrated about how to accomplish this task.

Generating fees and new clients is a large part of how successful and profitable a small practice will be for advancement and salary hierarchy of any professional firm. If the goal is to take your practice and career to the next level an integral component of that success is how effectively you bring in the business.

It is no longer enough to be a good or average practitioner; successful partners need a host of skills to survive and thrive in the complicated world of business.

Many partners are ushered out the door of firms every day because they cannot pull their weight. Firms split, partners are asked for capital contributions, associates and partners depart or are let go because there is not enough fee-generating business to go around.

The partner or practitioner that can become an essential, vital member of the firm is typically the one who can “bring in the business”. This ability has become critical for the professional in a modern professional practice and, if successful, that person becomes indispensable to the firm.

Professionals who can bring in new business have more professional security and options than those who cannot. Professionals who are able to land new clients and new matters are unlikely to be laid off: doing so would be against a firm’s economic interest.

Those who do not bring in new business and new clients (and who choose not to learn) may succeed in good economic times, but they are quickly cast aside when the economy becomes difficult, and they typically have trouble finding a new job without any ability to bring in business to support themselves.

The arrogance of expecting that technical skill alone will be sufficient to build a lasting practice is too often followed by the anguish of discovering that skill is not enough.

Regardless of the size of your firm, you are secure in your practice only to the extent that you can bring in clients to fill it. Professionals who know how to bring in clients succeed in practice.

Obviously, there are a multitude of ways to generate business, and what works for one professional or firm may not be a viable mechanism for another. Despite the many changes affecting the life of a professional, the need to create a consistent supply of quality, fee-paying clients remains a constant. The challenge is finding a way to connect with these prospective clients and convert them to viable clients. The good news is that there are many prospective clients that need and want your help.
Posted in | Tagged
Compiled by Francois Pretorius
Compiled by Francois Pretorius

How does the successful rainmaker differ from the unsuccessful rainmaker? How does a person become a rainmaker? Where do you learn the skills? How do professionals and business owners become great rainmakers? Is it possible to remain professional and avoid the stigma of being a “salesperson”? What is the secret to acquiring new clients and generating new business? How do those who do it well make it happen? Where did they learn how? How do I bring in the clients I want rather than taking everyone that walks in the door? How can I be a great businessman and have the stream of clients I need to be successful? Where do I start? Rainmaking is not about mastering sales tools or learning marketing theory.

It is about taking control. Taking control of your practice and your future, realising your vision and helping clients realise theirs. A successful rainmaker understands that generating business is critical to success and has learned how to acquire the desired clients needed to be successful. Rainmaking isn’t about the number of hours it takes, the type of personality you have or how good a practitioner you are, and it certainly isn’t about transforming practitioners into salespeople.

Rainmaking is about the actions necessary to consistently connect with prospective clients and generate new business, on purpose.

The bad news for most professionals is that generating business is no longer optional, it is a mandatory requirement for creating and maintaining a successful practice, making partner and succeeding to higher levels in your career.

This can be a frustrating undertaking for several reasons, not the least of which is because rainmaking, marketing, generating business or whatever we choose to call it, wasn’t something taught during our studies.

The good news is that most professionals already possess the skills necessary to succeed in these endeavours and with a little help and guidance can achieve the desired result of thriving successful practice, promotion and economic success.

It seems, though, that distinct and identifiable patterns and behaviours emerge when distinguishing the successful rainmaker from the unsuccessful. These are essentially traits that the successful rainmakers possess that set them apart from those that have not achieved the desired level of success. Three specific items are common to all successful rainmakers: they are mindset, goals and activity or action.
Posted in | Tagged
Compiled by Ben van der Westhuyzen
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe

As we look ahead into 2016, following are the trends that we anticipate will be the current state of the professional services marketing arena in SA as we see it today. Digital marketing has over the last few years undergone substantial transformation in this particular industry, becoming an increasingly important medium for creating awareness, positioning and an online brand experience. Just like any field that relies on communication technologies, online marketing is rapidly developing in some directions and departing from others, rendering some traditional marketing practices obsolete. What is in store for digital marketers in the upcoming year?

Digital marketing becomes a necessity – There is no denying it:, the marketing world is rapidly shifting to digital. People are consuming more and more digital content on a daily basis – on mobile phones, laptops, desktop computers at work, and more – and professional service firms that have not yet recognised this in their marketing strategies need to adapt fast. Why is digital marketing so important? Because it is not only a rapidly growing force in the current marketing playing field, it is set to be the future of marketing, and it seems likely that digital media will soon replace more traditional forms altogether.

Client engagement will be a key measure – As this industry does not rely on advertising and promotions to generate leads, client engagement with digital marketing becomes the primary marketing objective. The more that clients engage and interact with your digital marketing, the more loyal they become, the more you will generate leads and increase positive word of mouth. Measuring client engagement and providing insight into the success of your digital marketing efforts will become a vital marketing activity this coming year.

Rise of content marketing - The popularity of content marketing strategies will continue unabated into the upcoming year, which essentially means that marketers will abandon the traditional and generic digital marketing tactics in favour of creating more relevant and inspiring content. Instead of relying too much on generic content, firms will have to pay more attention to customer experience, client engagement and curate content in a more emphatic, client-oriented way.

Personalised means better – Professional service firms want users to interact with their content, and what better way to achieve that than through providing something relevant? By offering personalised content during the past year, companies were able to increase the number of sales, lower the costs of operation, inspire users to stay longer on their websites and foster customer satisfaction. Personalisation is expected to become a widely adopted practice in 2016, leading to the growth of stronger 1-to-1 marketing.

Going mobile all the way – In our client engagement statistics during 2015 we have seen a huge growth in mobile engagement;nearly 25% of all clients were engaging with content on mobile platforms. People use mobile devices all day long and in various contexts, allowing marketers to target them in a longer stretch of time and during different phases of the day – at work, during rest or play. The most important factor to keep in mind this year will be the enabling or adaptation of digital content to be viewed and read on mobile devices, called “responsiveness”.

Responsive web designs – Responsive web design is a collection of techniques that allow a website to flex and adapt to the size of screen it is being viewed on. As the web continues to evolve it is becoming ever more clear that the main driver to a website is not fancy eye candy, but solid, valuable, and shareable content. Responsive design explores the implications of limited screen real estate and ease of access not only for structure, but forces us to consider our messaging and content on-site by adopting a ‘mobile first’ strategy.

In order to stay effective in your marketing in 2016, online marketing strategies should immediately respond to the preferences and behaviours of their targeted audiences and follow clients in their daily use of the web and mobile.
Compiled by Emmerentia Fick
Compiled by Emmerentia Fick

What happens once you have a clear idea of where you want to take your business and need a carefully crafted business and marketing plan? At the beginning of the year it is always good management practice to think about developing a clear, concise marketing strategy to help you achieve your marketing objectives. If you already have a marketing strategy, given the significant changes in the economic landscape in South Africa over the past year, it is also a good idea to revisit your strategy to check for relevance. You may well have been treading water for the past year or so in terms of marketing activity. But during this time, how far have you deviated from your initial marketing strategy in order to survive? And how do you get back on track?

Being marketing consultants, whether developing a marketing strategy from scratch, or helping clients find their way back to where they want to be, we ask our clients to think about four specific key areas:

Identify how much your competitive landscape has changed. Have any new competitors emerged? If so, what are the services they are offering? How have your existing competitors changed in how they tackle this new geography? Understanding how your existing and new competitors are looking to tackle the new landscape of 2016 will help you better position yourself in the market and ultimately better compete against all competitors.

Re-examine your target markets. Time spent researching any changes amongst your target market in buying trends will give you a clear picture of who your customers are, what influences their buying decisions and what changes they are facing. Again, a clear understanding of your customers will enable you to position yourself appropriately and compete more effectively.

How relevant are your services? Whilst you may have been chasing every sale at all costs in recent times - and understandably so - this can sometimes dilute the unique set of benefits you are able to offer. Rewriting your positioning statement can be a very useful way to make sure you are clear about what you offer, to who, and why people should buy from you. Being clear about what you offer makes it easier to communicate your particular benefits to your chosen target markets, making for more effective marketing.

Are you doing enough to increase awareness and positioning? Effective marketing has the potential to build incredible value for professional firms, both small and large. That being said, branding and creating awareness has become a vital and an integral part of a professional firm's overall success in the highly competitive marketplace. To brand your firm is to differentiate it (or make your firm stand out) from the rest. Utilising the right marketing instrument will help you to have a “voice”, it will create a presence or indicate an influential authority in your industry and in the overall marketplace.

Without clients your business would not survive. To attract and retain clients your firms needs to understand the value of structured marketing. Many smaller professional firms do not place enough importance on marketing planning. Use 2016 to make a difference in this strategy of your firm.
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe

More than ever, professional service firms are under pressure to negotiate on price, to give the best deal possible, a “credit crunch special.” With the current economic instability in South Africa this will become a norm rather than an isolated occurrence. There are numerous tried and tested strategies for dealing with the all too common obstacle of price, with the general consensus being to steer your potential customer away from price towards a discussion about value. But here’s the problem: it is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

As strategic marketing consultants, we find that many professional firms struggle to correctly identify a value proposition that will be sufficiently appealing to their buyer. What your customers value and what they are actually prepared to pay for a particular service is often different. The question is: how do we bridge this gap?

The most important thing is to determine what your clients REALLY need and what is important to them. Most of the time there is a discrepancy between what we think they want and what they REALLY value. And remember – each client has their OWN expectations, and this is very important. Determine and identify what your clients consider to be value for money. Only with an understanding of what is important to your clients you can really start to create a valid value proposition that will be credible and resonate amongst your target market. It is also important not to assume that most clients believe they are purchasing something of value and are willing to pay for something as a “fair equivalent” for their money. What they are really looking for is “value-added”, in other words “good value”.

The better you understand their needs and their expectations, the easier it becomes to EXCEED their expectations and that is when you add value and when something becomes “value for money”.

Whatever the price point you set, your customers need to believe that that what they are buying is actually worth more to them than what they are paying. In other words, when you come to define - or indeed, redefine - your value proposition, try to find things you can offer to add exclusive yet highly relevant value - all included in your very reasonable price! Once you have done this, you need to make sure you communicate these elements to your clients to further reinforce your value proposition.

By taking the time to think about just what your customers value and how you can build that into your proposition, you can protect your pricing, stave of competitors and keep your customers coming back for more!

Posted in Client Service | Tagged Value
Posted on July 10, 2015
Compiled by Ben van der Westhuyzen
Compiled by Ben van der Westhuyzen

As a service professional, the challenge is always to make yourself and your firm stand out from the crowd. Are you or your firm in the target markets’ frame of reference when they require the specific services you or your firm offer? Are you “top of mind”?

A common mistake that service professionals make, is to view themselves as experts purely based on their knowledge, experience or expertise. Almost by definition, most professional services firms have some level of specialised expertise. In some cases there are individuals within the firm who can legitimately be thought of as experts, but in most cases the professionals are generalist or at best specialists. While many professionals may be well known to their colleagues inside the firm or even within their respective professions, they remain largely unknown to the larger community of potential clients.

There are, however, a tiny minority of professionals out there that attracts the unfair percentage of the industry’s attention. Their colleagues love them, businesses seek them out for their knowledge and wisdom and they are renowned in the realms of digital and print media for strong opinions on relevant matters. While they may not be household names, these professionals are widely known and admired by their peers. They are sought after. They are regularly featured in local publications, at seminars or conferences. These individuals are widely recognised as experts, and their success is no accident.

How can you position yourself as an expert and achieve broader awareness and recognition in the marketplace you serve? The following are the three key elements at play to become a visible and recognised expert.

1. Knowledge

The first and most important key to being an expert is your knowledge. Whether you specialise in a service or particular issue, your knowledge, expertise and experience commands influence amongst colleagues, peers and your specific target audience. Your knowledge is a key attribute and makes people turn to you for trusted advice and opinion. Whereas a generalist knows something about everything, the specialist or true expert knows a whole lot more than the average professional about a specific field or practice area.

Expertise is built on both formal credentials and the stature of your accomplishments. Most specialists narrowed their service offering by focusing on their own areas of strengths and passions. It is therefore important that you not only build up experience and credentials in a specific field or subject matter, but that you also apply this expertise to specific topics or issues relating to the target market. If your perspective is particularly insightful or provocative it tends to gain traction in the marketplace. Being known as a specialist is the first step in becoming an expert.

2. Personality

Most traditional professionals tend to provide conventional and widely accepted perspectives on topics that are of little immediate interest to their target audience. Their opinion on these matters does little to distinguish them as experts. The second key factor to becoming an expert is to adopt a strong personality. An expert is always actively looking to address complex and controversial issues and the target audience welcomes their expert opinion and perspective. It is important to have the courage, conviction and consistency to address relevant and controversial issues. The expert does not back down from publicly raising their opinion about relevant matters and actively stimulating and engaging in conversations.

3. Publicity

The last key component to be recognised as an expert is that of publicity. An expert without the necessary visibility amongst the target audience will always only remain a specialist. Publicity and visibility are important components to help you build your reputation of being an expert amongst your audiences of interest. Visibility is boosted by the range of places you are seen. If you are active on social media, easily found via search engines, well known in relevant trade associations and often quoted in trade press, you are well on your way to target exceptional audience visibility. As an expert, you need to use a wide array of tools to boost your reputation and express your opinion of relevant issues. With the emergence of various digital marketing tools, it is easier than ever before to build and boost your reputation. You could use any of the following tools to increase your visibility:

• A dedicated or personal website (or microsite)
• Complete and updated LinkedIn profile
• Professional photography for your profile
• Personal biographies in various lengths
• Videos overviewing your expertise or sampling your speaking skills
• Blog posts to regularly express your opinion on relevant or controversial issues
• Position papers or white papers on specific industry related matters
• Newspaper or journal articles
• Research papers
• Books and e-books

By combining your knowledge and personality and by actively engaging in publicity to increase your visibility you are well on your way, as a service professional, to establishing yourself as an Expert. It’s all about focus, careful planning and genuine expertise. If you do it well, the rewards can accelerate not only a career, but also an entire firm.
Posted on July 8, 2015
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe

When looked upon the first time, the link between employee motivation and performance seems to be quite obvious. That is because every time when we deem a task to be important and valuable to us, we act with a high level of dedication and enthusiasm to its completion. However, the relationship between these two factors are in fact much more complex. Realistically speaking, the duties we have at work can be most of the time tedious, repetitive and quite boring. With that in mind, owners of professional firms need to find creative ways in which to consistently keep their employees motivated. Benefits of motivating your staff include:

• Motivation is generally what energises, maintains and controls behaviour, it acts as a stimulus for desirable actions.

• Raising Employee Efficiency - An employee’s efficiency level is not strictly related to his/her abilities and qualifications. In order to get the very best results, an employee needs to have a perfect balance between ability and willingness. Such balance can lead to an increase in productivity, lower operational costs, and an overall improvement in efficiency, and can only be achieved through motivation.

• Team Harmony – A proper work environment focused on cooperative relationships is highly important for a firms’ success. Not only can it bring stability and profits, but employees will also adapt more easily to changes, which is ultimately in the firms’ benefit.

• Workforce Stability – Stability of the personnel is highly important from a business point of view. Staff will stay loyal to the firm only when they experience a sense of participation. The abilities and potency of staff can be used in their own advantage, but also to the benefit of the firm.

• Lower levels of absenteeism as the employees are content with their working environment.

• Lower levels of staff turnover.

• This can lead to lower training and recruitment costs.

• Content employees give the firm a good reputation – making it easier to recruit the best staff.

If you wish to inspire your personnel, then you need to provide an environment that exudes positive energy. Ensure that all your workers feel that they are an integral contributor to the overall team success. Keep your doors open and keep yourself approachable.
Posted on July 8, 2015
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe

Today’s professional services marketplace is undergoing considerable change as it adjusts to the introduction of various online marketing tools. While many firms still prefer traditional lead generation techniques such as face-to-face networking, client referrals and sponsorships, recent trends have shown a rapid change in the way buyer select professional services. Firms that ignore these changes do so at their own risk.

The challenge that professional services firms face is that the sales process is more complex than that of the retailers or wholesales. Other than creating awareness by advertising a product at a certain price, making it easy for prospects to evaluate value and quality, professional services have a much harder job to attract the interest of prospective buyers and get them to make contact. Besides having to create awareness, other elements come into play when generating leads: visibility, building trust, educating and nurturing the lead. If any of these elements are neglected, the firm will struggle to convert leads into business.

Lead generation therefore become a process that requires a well-crafted plan. The centerpiece of that plan is a structured lead generation process. When you get it right it will result in a steady flow of qualified leads that result in prime clients.

What is a lead generation process?
A lead generation process describes how you identify, nurture and qualify potential new clients — culminating eventually in a request for proposal. It consists of three components: a) Generating the “raw” lead; b) Nurturing the lead and c) Qualifying the lead. Once a lead shows interest, the partners or sales team still need close the deal through needs analysis, education, and building trust. All three components are critical and many firms stumble because they neglect one of the three.

Start with a well-crafted plan
Lead generation will be effective when it is managed according to a plan. Your plan should address the following aspects:

1. Identifying your target client
The biggest stumbling block for firms is that their target clients are overly broad and they see everyone as their target market. The less specific you are, the more difficult it will be to generate qualified leads. Try to identify the particular type of issue you are best prepared to solve.

2. Know your target client group
Most firms skip this step and do very little to do research about the target clients. Try to learn as much as you can about the challenges and concerns they face, where they turn for help, and what their expectations and questions are.

3. Determine clear qualifying criteria
How do you know when a lead is qualified? Some firms look at budget or perhaps the prospect’s need for a specific services. Other criteria can be: Frustration with their current service provider, perception of value, one stop service needs or specialised service needs.

4. Determinethe specific sequence of lead nurturing
Very often leads show interest, but are not yet ready to make a decision to buy or move from their existing service provider. Consider what sort of information they might be interested in today that would set them up to be a client in the future. How can you begin to establish trust and build rapport now? Monthly electronic newsletters are effective lead nurturing approaches to move early-stage prospects through the pipeline.

Identify online and traditionaltechniques
Online lead generation techniques are gaining rapid ground as they are often less expensive than the more traditional techniques. Here are a few online and traditional techniques to consider:

Online Techniques Traditional Techniques
• Lead generating website
• Search engine optimization(SEO)
• Pay per click advertising (PPC)
• Blogging
• Online white papers, ebooks, kits and guides
• Online networking (social media)
• Online video & webinars
• e-newsletters
• email marketing
• Referrals
• Industry networking events
• Advertising in trade publications
• Speaking engagements
• Articles, white papers and books
• Cold calling
• Trade shows
• Seminars
• Public speaking engagements

6. Track all leads
How will you know if your lead generation process is working? The only way to know for sure is to track a few key variables. Here are some ideas:

• Track lead generation activities. These are the things you do to generate and nurture leads.
• Track the costs associated with each activity.
• Track the number of leads generated by each activity.
• Track leads that convert to proposals for each activity (conversion percentage).
• Track proposals that convert into clients (closing percentage) for each lead source.
• Calculate the cost per client for each source.

Without a plan and a data collection system, it is very easy to cling to tactics that no longer work. Follow these six key steps and your chances of generating qualified leads that turn into profitable clients are greatly improved.
Posted on July 8, 2015
Compiled by Ben vd Westhuyzen
Compiled by Ben van der Westhuyzen

In my opinion internal marketing is almost as important as external marketing. It may be a cliché, but your internal staff are your business, they are a big part of your brand. It is important that each and every employee needs to understand the firm’s direction and vision and really believe and live the brand. A romantic statement, but if they’re not passionate about your brand it will show in their work.

It is probably self-explanatory, however internal marketing is about treating your staff as your customers and communicating clearly, selling the vision of the firm to them. You can take it as far as you want, but at the very least the firm’s strategic objectives and team strategies must be communicated and visible within the firm; this gives everyone direction – and something to be part of.

What’s the purpose of practicing internal marketing?

Internal marketing offers the following benefits:

• It ensures that staff effectively buy in to what the firm wants to achieve and are more effective at what they do.

• Informed staff are usually “engaged” staff – there is a purpose to work for.

• Happy staff equals happy customers.

• Internal marketing helps firms deliver better customer service.

• Employees feel more motivated and experience higher job satisfaction.

• They are empowered to make decisions within certain guidelines and begin to feel more respected and valued for their contributions.

• This feeling leads to a greater sense of belonging to the “team” as well as responsibility and accountability to employers.

• Staff conflict wanes and people have better dispositions at work.

• Firms benefit from higher employee satisfaction and retention.

• Increased compliance with standards and protocols

Now, who wouldn’t want to work for a firm with a culture like the above? And what does it really require? Openness, flexibility, and a desire to do things better for better results. It’s a mindset.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.

Posted on July 8, 2015
Compiled by Emmerentia Fick
Compiled by Emmerentia Fick

In professional services marketing, research shows LinkedIn is the most effective social network for online networking, producing referral traffic and generating qualified leads. Research also shows that professional services firms with the highest growth place the most focus on LinkedIn out of all the major social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Google+).

Many professionals use LinkedIn on a fundamental and basic level. You may have created your profile, joined a few groups, connected with friends and colleagues, and checked who has viewed your profile or recruited professionals for your firm. These are all helpful techniques, but the challenge is to take your LinkedIn efforts to the next level. Here are two strategies to consider:

1.Use LinkedIn as a top promotional outlet of quality content

You have probably built up a LinkedIn page, included your levels of expertise, firm info, services and brand promise. You’ve given the visitor a clear picture of who you and your firm is. This is a good start. But in order to fully leverage LinkedIn, you need to think of it as one of your top promotional outlets of quality content. This means sharing and promoting your content, events and thought leadership across LinkedIn – including in groups and across employees’ profiles as much as possible. The goal, of course, is to have your LinkedIn referral traffic convert – to sign up for a newsletter, register for an event, download an article, or take an action that moves potential leads further along the sales funnel. This benefits your firm as you grow your email list and LinkedIn followers, but also benefits the user as they receive relevant, educational material. How do you know what to share? Think of it this way: you can share and promote anything on LinkedIn that you might also share through email marketing or on your website. Leveraging more than one channel will increase your conversions, website traffic, and develop your brand’s online reputation and visibility.

2. Increase your activity in groups

It is not enough to passively join a LinkedIn group of many members. This is like being the tiniest voice in a huge crowd. You will get the most return on your LinkedIn investment if you increase your commitment to group participation – and do so by choosing groups where you can increase your visibility. How can you increase group participation? Become one of the “top contributors” to a group.

The goal is to start captivating discussions and contribute thought-provoking comments that encourage responses. Those who initiate the most interaction are more likely to become a top contributor. And the more interaction you take part in, the higher your visibility – both for you as an individual and for your firm. The second aspect of visibility within a group is to choose the right sized group. Choosing the right sized group depends on your firm, of course. We’ve found that groups with a few hundred to a few thousand members to be the most beneficial. You see substantial interaction with other professionals in your industry, but the group isn’t so large that your discussion thread becomes lost after two hours.

LinkedIn is much more than a social media hub for seeing who has viewed your profile (yes, we’re all guilty). By leveraging this networking platform as a place to cross-share all your marketing activities and content and thoughtfully increasing group activity, you can substantially increase your LinkedIn ROI.

Posted on July 8, 2015
Compiled by Francois Pretorius
Compiled by Francois Pretorius

When clients turn out to be a headache rather than a value to your business, it's time to consider letting them go. Abusive clients or those with excessive demands who are not bringing your firm significant revenue are a drain on firm resources and morale and may prevent you from focusing on your more profitable clients. Showing unwanted clients the door allows you to focus on those clients who are actually worth your business's time.

Talk with the client - Let the unwanted client know where he or she stands. Sometimes you may be able to salvage a relationship if you let the client know that the relationship is not considered mutually beneficial. Your client will either leave on his own accord or try to repair the relationship if he considers it worth salvaging. For example, a late-paying client may start getting payments in on time if he really likes your firm's products or services.

Let the client down gently - If you have no intentions of keeping the client, let them go, especially if the client is abusive to your staff. You'll improve employee morale for cutting ties with a client who makes a habit of belittling anyone in your firm. However, if the client is just a resource drain, offer other businesses that may be able to give the client what they seek. You want to sever relationships that are not mutually beneficial as painlessly as possible so the client will have options to look elsewhere for similar legal services. Helping facilitate a smooth transition for these types of clients will leave a much better impression of your firm than simply asking the client to leave. You may even get a referral for handling the separation with empathy and tact.

Aid the transition - If the client does have an interest in doing business with one of your referrals, notify that business of what it should expect. If the business your unwanted client is being referred to agrees to take him on, the firm may be able to start off on the right note with that client by paying attention to certain cues. Sometimes it's all about relationships. What may be a headache of a client for your firm may be a gem of a client to another.

Once you've gotten rid of your unwanted clients, you'll want to evaluate what things your firm can change to eliminate or lessen the potential of acquiring these types of clients in future. Maybe you need to increase fees, set new late-payment deadlines or outline a clearer policy for client-employee interaction. Make the necessary adjustments so your business can get back to exceeding the expectations of those clients who do a superior job of keeping your firm afloat.

Compiled by Emmerentia Fick
Compiled by Emmerentia Fick

From a digital marketing point of view, there is a significant difference between an electronic newsletter and an electronic campaign. In short, an electronic campaign is more focused on communicating a single message with a specific call to action whereas an electronic newsletter will focus on a number of topics and is more centered on educating and informing clients, which in turn, builds rapport and loyalty.

Newsletters present firms with a great opportunity. When you offer your readers real value, they will reciprocate by offering you a slice of their attention. It therefore makes sense to keep newsletters separate from your campaigns.

A good newsletter will include the following:

• Added value articles which informs the client about subjects they may be interested in. This provides links back to the website where they can read the complete articles – thereby spending more time on your blog.

• Information them about upcoming events that may be of interest and that your firm is involved in.

• Announcements on a new service you are introducing.

• Testimonials from a recent client you have worked with or a case study.

• Ways that people can connect with your business on social media so that you can maintain engagement.

• Good call to actions that tell the readers what to do next i.e. read more here, register here, to learn more etc.

When creating this content, you need to be focused on giving your clients information that informs, entertains, adds value and ultimately answers their questions.

A successful marketing campaign, on the other hand, is well-thought-out, focused on details and embodies the following characteristics:

Clear and single-minded. The core message, regardless of the media platform, is easy to understand and based on one core insight.

Relevant. When exposed to the campaign, people in the target audience feel that "It is for people like me."

Tangible. The call to action is clear, so people know right away what you are asking them to do.

Emotional. In most cases, information alone is not inherently motivating. Effective campaigns appeal to people’s emotions as much if not more than their rational side.

Campaigns that are clear, relevant, action-oriented, and emotional are more likely to have the desired effect—in most cases, to influence people to change a behavior that benefits themselves, their families, or their community. Here are some key numbers to remember when embarking on an electronic campaign:

40 percent of the impact of the campaign comes from sending it to the right client database in the first place. A well develop and segmented mailing list is vital. Segmentation is the process of dividing a market segment into distinct manageable groups of clients that are likely to behave in a similar manner or share a similar set of needs or characteristics. Audiences are influenced in different ways by different types of content. If you offer numerous service, or are targeting more than one group, then it makes sense to divide your audience into small segments so that you can market specific services to specific groups, or craft your message to suit the characteristics of the different segments. Although segmenting your list takes more time and effort, it does not need to be a daunting task. Even the most basic segmenting will result in significantly higher conversion rates.

40 percent comes from the value of the offer. The engagement process can begin when you offer something of value to the client. By giving clients something that they deem to have worth, you are building trust from the beginning and positioning yourself as an authority figure. Ask for something in return. Sometimes you might want to provide something of value to clients in exchange for submitting some simple information that can be used to build your marketing list.

20 percent comes from the design or writing of the piece. A campaign is normally in a different format than your newsletter. You need to create a direct message with a strong offer that will spur the recipient to action. What do you want the recipient to do next? Your goal is to get action and not just to inform. You can get creative with catchy wording and graphics. Your goal is to get the reader to respond.

Lastly, always remember to analyse the results of the campaign. Here are a few important questions to ask: Did the final results match what you expected? What parts of the demographic responded better than expected? Are there subsets of your target audience that you can focus on in future mailings?

Where newsletters aim to increase awareness and strengthen positioning, every campaign you run aims to contribute not only to your turn over figures but also to enhancing your client database. Using both as part of your marketing plan, will surely benefit your overall marketing ROI.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.

Posted in Business Relations | Tagged Sample
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe
Compiled by Tobie van der Merwe

Traditionally, lead generation was centered on cold calling, chasing referrals and active networking. Even though there is still a place for these tried and tested lead generation techniques, the emergence of online marketing platforms have however dramatically changed the way firms attract new clients. There is a major change in consumer behavior and the way they use technology to find potential service providers. Recent research studies have shown that about 80% of people (potential clients) use online platforms like websites, blogs and videos to search out and learn more about a firm before making contact. Potential clients go online to educate themselves around a specific need they have, find potential firms that can address those needs and to check out those firms to see if they are a suitable option as service provider. As professional services firms adjust their marketing tactics to generate leads through online platforms, it is important to ask this question: Who is our target market? By asking this question, we can adjust our marketing approach, focus and message in order to attract better quality leads.

If you want to grow your firm faster and be more profitable, one of the key disciplines you need to master is better client targeting. A well-defined and well-understood target market helps you align your marketing tools and marketing message for better lead generation. Here are seven key questions you must be able to answer positively to maximise the positive impact of client targeting.

1. Have you analysed your existing clients to determine how to define your best target marget? Your current clients are usually the best place to start when defining your ideal target market. Aspect to consider are profitability, compatibility with your firm and team and long term loyalty. In short, you are looking for what is already working. This step will help you make sure you are targeting the right type of clients.

2. Do you understand their problems, concerns, hopes and daily reality? This is a challenging question, but really pay dividends when well thought through. Many firms only focus on demographics (age, geographics, income levels, etc.). Try to put yourself in the clients’ shoes to understand what feelings and needs drive their buying behaviour. When you understand the pressures and problems your target market is experiencing, you can develop service offerings that will make their lives easier.

3. Can you get specific about your target market? If you have sufficient information to describe your target clients in detail, you are more likely to find and attract qualified prospects. This knowledge will help your entire marketing program – from brand development to your marketing plan. Questions 2 and 3 will help you to create a suitable message when communicating via email marketing, your website or newsletters.

4. Do you conduct research on your clients to anticipate their needs and uncover trends? Formal, systematic and structured research (not to be confused with the “informal research” many of us do on our clients) will put you in a position to understand the trends affecting your clients. The importance of research is often overlooked. Formal research allows you to anticipate what services your target market is likely to need and therefore position yourself to offer those services in advance of your competitors. This is more pro-active approach than constantly reacting to the market.

5. Can you identify the best channels to communicate with your target market? The previous questions focused on developing better targeting and a more focused message. By answering this question you will be able to better deliver that message. Where do your target clients get their information? Which blogs do they read? What associations do they belong to? If you don’t know the answer to these questions you will be less effective reaching your best prospects.

6. Does your firm have credibility with your target market? Without credibility, you will struggle to attract attention and interest. Building credibility takes time. Start by ensuring that you create quality website and blog content. Also consider using case studies, client references and personal branding of directors or partners.

7. Have they heard of your firm? This final point addresses visibility. You may have a great reputation, but if only a few people in your target market have heard of your firm, you will have limited traction. Visibility is one of the easier problems to solve if you understand your specific target well, have a credible and informative message, and understand where your customers turn for information.

Make the time and effort to identify and know your target market. It is the starting point for more effective lead generation and lead nurturing plan.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.
Posted in Client Service | Tagged sample, sample
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